Etosha – Part 2

Etosha – Part 2

Halali Camp

I omitted in Part 1 to mention the fellow tourists at Etosha. They were almost all Europeans with very few locals about. And the way they tour is to hire a camper bakkie with a tent on the roof and head for the bush. Many was the time that they would stop to find what Steven and I were looking at only to go away disappointed that it was only birds. In fact we saw not one other photographer amongst them.

The desolate landscape near Okaukuejo
I can think of no worse way of seeing the local wildlife than by being a part of a large camping group. These were members of a a German party.

Wednesday, 10th

We leave Okaukuejo at about 10am after spending a while photographing birds in camp. Our destination, Halali,  is some 75km eastward and it is better that we travel during the heat of the day. About halfway along the road, we turn along a road that runs down to the pan and standing quite placidly next the road is a Black Rhino and calf.

Knowing full well the habits of rhinos, I find it quite remarkable how relaxed these black rhino are here – especially with a calf.

As we drive eastward, the vegetation greens and thickens and trees appear. The roads are sometimes really badly corrugated and we finally arrive at Halali rather flustered.

Signposts can keep one guessing.

The name Halali derives from the horn blown at the end of a hunting day by the early German hunters in the area.

Halali Camp chalets
The restaurant and admin buildings.

Late afternoon, we make an exploratory trip along a road running south east of the camp. Mopane trees line the road and we see very little. The whole of Etosha is extremely flat so it is quite unusual that three prominent koppies are in close proximity to the camp. They are formed from resistant dolomite rock and are to be  seen from quite a distance.

The unusually banded dolomitic rock.
The koppie – Helio – so called from the heliograph that the soldiers used to flash messages to distant camps.
Rainbows are common late afternoon when scattered thunderstorms seem to pop up from nowhere.

Thursday, 11th

After our usual early breakfast we are quickly out of the gates and take the road westward along the edge of the pan. There is much to keep us busy.

Lark-like Bunting
The very pretty Temminck’s Courser
The Guineafowl in Etosha have brilliantly blue necks – much more so than back home.

There are approx. 2,500 elephant in Etosha although we saw little evidence of them.
Monotonous Lark

Hartebeest are common

This afternoon we take a road north-east of camp and it proves excellent.

Common Buzzard

At the northern end of the road, we take the Etosha Lookout road that is actually built out onto the pan itself.

The road has been built out onto the pan for about 1 km.

This incredible, featureless expanse is about half the size of Kruger Park – 10,000sq km. The surface is sun cracked but below is clay with a consistency of plasticene.

On the way back to camp we come across a very distant beautiful Lesser Kestrel.

Friday, 12th

This morning we are going to do our NE road, but in reverse. Along the main, east-west road we come across a pair of beautiful Greater Kestrels.

Etosha faced the near extinction of the “Black-faced Impala” – which is also found in east Africa. That they are now flourishing, especially in the wetter eastern Etosha, is borne out by the fact that we never saw ‘normal’ impala.

Black-faced Impala are larger and darker than their KNP cousins and are characterized by the black facial stripe between their nostrils and eyes.
Surely one of the great sights of the bush. A face-on view of that ‘battle tank’ – an agitated Black Rhino.

Halali Camp contains some birding specials that Steven and I are keen to photograph. Our luck is in today as we stroll about camp with our tripods and cameras.

Damara Red-billed Hornbill. Whiter face and dark eyes distinguish them from the normal Red-billed Hornbill.
Violet Wood Hoopoe. Only found in central and northern Namibia.
Bare-cheeked Babbler. Endemic to northern Namibia.

Grey-backed Camaroptera

Like Okaukuejo, Halali is famous for its beautiful waterhole – especially at sunset. Sited on the flanks of the koppie, it provides a great vantage point.

Another Black Rhino at the evening waterhole.

Saturday, 13th         We spend the day wandering about the roads close to camp. Nearly every day is  the same weatherwise. At sunrise the sky is cloudy but clear on the eastern horizon – leading to lovely sunrises.

By midmorning the clouds have  been burnt away and the sky clears but the temperature is not excessive. Low thirties. After 4pm the clouds build up rapidly and scattered thunderstorms sweep across the plains.

European Bee-eaters
A young Tawny Eagle

Sunday, 14th                  Today we move to Namutoni on the east side of Etosha. Again the distance is 75km. We make an early start. A flock of Abdim’s Storks come flying down the road towards us.

And so onto our last lap, Namutoni Camp, famous for its old German Fort. I will continue our tale in Etosha Part 3 shortly ………….